Are you adopting a pet? The Geelong Animal Welfare Society (GAWS) pairs stray animals with loving, new owners. Cattery supervisor Marie McPadden tells Warcry about her incredible job.
How did you begin working for GAWS and what drew you to the place?
I began four years ago as a volunteer in the cats adoption section. Before that I was mainly working with people as a volunteer and wanted a change. GAWS was advertising for volunteers, so I offered. After a short while, I was offered a job as the cattery supervisor which I find very rewarding, although it has its moments of sadness, too.
What does GAWS do?
GAWS takes in stray and surrendered animals from the City of Greater Geelong and surrounding shires. This is mainly cats and dogs, but also occasionally rabbits, ferrets and birds. We also run an op shop, with all funds going towards the shelter, and accept surrendered pets, although this should always be the last possible outcome.
Over the past 12 months more than 2,200 animals were given a second chance of joining a new loving family through our GAWS Adoption Program.
Why do pets arrive at GAWS?
Most often animals come in as strays and are brought in by both the council and public. Sadly, some are surrendered, as their owners can no longer keep them.
People surrender their pets for a variety of reasons, such as changes in relationships, residential property rules, health challenges and financial strains. We never refuse a pet, but encourage owners to first consider alternative options such as providing life enrichment toys, hiring a dog walker, taking your pet to a beach or park, seeing a vet or asking your new landlord if pets are accepted on a property.
What should someone consider before adopting a pet?
They need to adopt a pet that will suit their lifestyle and budget, and try to make a commitment to do their best for their pet’s lifetime. Our adoption officers spend quality time getting to know each animal available for adoption.
The information about their person-ality [and] the pet’s behaviour will provide
the basis to finding a suitable home for our animal. Every animal is special in
its own way, so it is crucial that we match an animal with a family that will
be able to meet its unique physical and behavioural needs.
What is the benefit of adopting a pet from a shelter, rather than going through a pet shop?
You are saving a life and making a lot of shelter workers very happy as we see our cherished animals go off to their new lives. Pets adopted from us are desexed, microchipped, vaccinated and have had worm and flea treatments. They are also matched to your family.
Many of our animals are older kittens and adults of all ages, and these desperately need loving homes too. Many pet shops in our area now source their cats and rabbits from our shelter, so buying from these stores means you’re buying from us.
If someone is unable to adopt a pet, what’s the best way they can support their local animal shelter?
We can always use volunteers to help with all sorts of tasks, foster carers, fund-raisers, maintenance support, financial donors—the list is endless.
What tips would you give to a pet owner?
Microchips are a blessing but they only work if the owner’s details are up to date! Also, cats need to be locked up at night-time, but should also be contained on the owner’s property during the day. We have a booklet featuring cat fencing products and cat run designs that can help owners with this.
As told by Marie McPadden and gaws.org.au.